If you haven’t seen it yet, have a look at the front page of today’s Guardian. In advance of the debate on the Justice and Security Bill this afternoon there is a very significant development in one of the cases the government is facing, and in which the government wants to use the new secret courts being proposed. This development will shine a light directly on the government’s key claim that its motivation for this Bill is to avoid making unwarranted payouts to terror suspects.
The Libyan government official, Abdul-Hakim Belhaj, is claiming damages against the UK government, Jack Straw and the former head of counter-terrorism at MI6, Sir Mark Allen, for his kidnap, rendition and torture with the complicity of the UK security services. He has made an open offer to settle his claim for a token sum of £3 – £1 from each defendant – and, crucially, a full unreserved apology and a full admission of liability by each party. He has done so, he says:
“My wife and I suffered deeply during our kidnap and in Libya, and … continue to suffer. My wife may never be the same again. But we have come to court in Britain because we believe your courts can deliver justice. We are primarily bringing this claim to secure a public judgment, recognising the wrongs we have suffered.”
Mr Belhaj wishes to make clear that his motivation is not seeking money, but the truth. What is the government’s motivation?